Is the Kindle doomed?
Shortest article ever! Woo-hoo!
Well, let me modify that. Not right away. Not indicated by the price drops.
I mean, there is that whole entropy thing, and the Earth falling into the sun, and when they can beam information directly into our brains (which is all we are at that point…brains…which makes an attractive target for space zombies…but I digress).
There have been a couple of articles recently from tech writers suggesting that dedicated EBRs (E-Book Readers) are doomed, and soon.
“Ha, ha, silly readers! No one will spend money on a book-reading device when they can have a tablet computer that shows books and movies and does e-mail! That’s why they cut the prices…so they could get rid of that obsoletrons and put them in the museum with the buggy whips and 8-tracks!”
Look, I get it. You don’t like things that do only one thing. You are multitaskers. You don’t just want a Swiss Army Knife…you want a Swiss Army Knife with a 128mb USB flash drive! You don’t want just a pen…you want a pen that has a stylus, and a flashlight, and, and, and…a laser pointer! ‘Cause, you know, lasers are cool. Oh, and all that despite the fact that you can’t think of the last time you even used a pen! When somebody gives you a t-shirt, you say, “But what does it do?” Detect wifi? Play my personal theme music and sound-effects?
Believe me, I’m right there with you on the gadget thing. I own that soundtrack t-shirt. I carry two little multi-tools with me. I always waited for the scenes with Q in the James Bond movies.
E-book readers were around long before the Kindle. I think one of the biggest reasons the Kindle slapped a defibrillator on the e-book market and shocked it into life is that it was easy to use for non-techies.
“Yuck,” you say.
“It should be smaller! Faster! Electronic! And do more stuff! Nobody reads any more!”
Um, they do. Readers spend a lot of money on paperbooks. Oh, maybe not as much money as people spend on videogames, but the market is there.
You know what? Reading books is a quiet activity. It’s a time to zen out, to let it all happen inside your head.
Screaming now? Too quiet for you?
I totally understand the “I love noise” thing. I do usually read with other stuff going on. I’m still freaked out by a Dexter’s Laboratory episode where nobody in the cartoon said anything for several seconds! There was just some kind of little girl who just looked and blinked! Aaaaahhhhh! The silence, the silence!
I love having an EBR. I want to be able to just kick back and read, long-form.
And I’m not alone.
Would I like an iPad? Sure. I’d use it for e-mail and writing this blog and yes, movies.
But I’d also want my EBR with me.
I think a lot of people will own both.
Cars play MP3s. Tablets and netbooks play MP3s.
People still buy MP3 players.
“But they cut the price!”
Yes. But that doesn’t signal the beginning of the end. The price for the Kindle has already been cut several times (when it was introduced in November of 2007 it cost more than twice what it does today).
Prices go down in electronics. That’s the way it usually works.
Remember when you paid $2000 for a desktop computer? $100 for a calculator?
Okay, a calculator might be a bad example…that market has dwindled, I’d say.
Even a Kindle can do some calculator functions.
Look, do you really think an 85-year old whose never been into tech (many of them have, by the way) would prefer an iPad to a Kindle?
Yes, fifty years from now when the Boomers have all died out, things will be different.
Things will be different tomorrow.
But I don’t see the EBR going down in flames in the death spiral quite yet. I think more of the devices will be sold in 2011 than in 2010 (and obviously, more in 2010 than 2009). My guess is there is at least five years left in the market.
You know, like cellphones. When tablets can Skype effectively, does that mean cellphones immediately disappear?
Not in my opinion. A lot of people will stick with them for a while.
I could, of course, be totally wrong. We’ll know in a year or so. Maybe Amazon will just go back to being a content provider. Maybe Sony will finally give up on EBRs, after all these years.
But sometimes, I do wish sunshine sold as well as gloom: that optimism outsold pessimism, and Chicken Little got fewer headlines than Pollyanna.
Well, I could just say, “that’s not going to happen…if it bleeds, it leads.”
But I think I’ll hold out hope.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.